Plants, Plants, Plants

Spent the day packing plants for my Bountiful Container Gardening talk at the New York Botanical Garden on June 27th. Preparing for a cross country trip with more than a hundred vegetables and herbs in various stages of growth is a challenge. Fortunately, Helen, our nursery shipping expert has it all down. Last summer she test packed plants in various ways for shipping and took their temperature to learn the best way to avoid heat buildup. When shipping in warm weather ventilated plants arrive in good condition and grow best. There is a science to everything and healthy plants mean happy customers. My plants are vented, have ice packs, cushioning, and are separately boxed.
I am looking forward to my time at NYBG, it’s our first visit to this famed historical garden. Keane and I will be taking photos and will post them when I return. I’m taking Amy Stewart’s new book “Wicked Plants” to read on the trip and Keane and I will visit the poisonous plant collection at Cornell. It’s maintained by the veterinary science department and should be very interesting.

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Bountiful Container Talk@New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx, has scheduled a summer long series on food gardening. See special admission offer below. The weekend of June 27/28th 2009 is the kickoff event. I’m very excited to do a talk and demonstration on how to NY botanical garden conservatorygrow the foods you like in containers. I’ll show how to plant a container garden for SE Asian cookery, a summer salad garden, a multi- season herb garden and more. My talk is at 3:00 on the 27th, mid-morning I’m participating in a Q&A session and at noon I’ll be signing copies of my book, McGee & Stuckey’s The Bountiful Container.

Gardeners can harvest fresh, organic, beautiful food in the smallest spaces with just a little know how. I hope some of our Nichols Garden Nursery customers and blog readers in the New York area can come to my talk and if not visit the New York Botanical Garden this summer. Edible gardening maven, Rosalind Creasy, has overseen the planting and design of a demonstration family food garden and Martha Stewart has been busy with a herb garden she has installed. This is a rare opportunity to learn and talk with a variety of horticulturists and garden writers who are experts dedicated to home food gardening.

The Metro-North Railroad Botanical Garden station is directly across from the Mosholu Gate. Harlem Line. Driving directions are here.

For a special offer to this event go to http://www.nybg.org/promo/ and enter code EGDIG09 Buy one adult ticket pay 1/2 price for the second. This is a summer long offer with this promo code.

Arugula & Rigatoni with Tomato Sauce

If you have arugula or “garden rocket” growing in your June garden, it’s probably become a little spicy and is ready to bolt. Try this delicious pasta recipe. You will easily use up a couple fistfuls of arugula and have yourself a salad and side dish in one. The arugula flavor mellows when combined with the hot pasta and savory sauce.

We were having fish for dinner so I made a few changes. Didn’t seem as though we needed cheese tonight so this was omitted. Our tarragon is still tender so I stripped the leaves from three long stems and threw those on top and that was a good partner with the fish. Decided to eliminate the basil.  Arugula pastaAlso the onions need to be used before I take off to the New York Botanic Garden to speak about and demonstrate how to grow a food garden in containers.  Next I chopped an onion and stirred it around in the  olive oil and garlic. There is nothing like travel time away from the summer garden to send us bustling around trying to get everything done.

4 cups arugula leaves washed, drained and trimmed
1 pound uncooked rigatoni or other small pasta
2 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
3 garlic cloves pressed or minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried
salt & red or black pepper to taste

Tear arugula into generous bite-sized pieces. Lay the leaves in a large, heat resistant, shallow serving dish. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until it reaches that barely tender stage. Remove and drain. While the pasta is cooking prepare this easy tomato sauce: Heat olive oil and stir garlic around until softened and fragrant. Add tomatoes and seasonings and heat to a simmer. Remove bay leaf.  Pour the hot, drained steaming pasta, over the bed of arugula.  Spread the tomato sauce over the pasta. Let a few bright green leaves show around the edges of the pasta. Do not toss together. Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Serves 4-6.

Plant A Row For the Hungry “PAR”

Plant A Row For the Hungry is a program we like to mention this time of year. When those delicious fresh vegetables start producing faster than your household can use then think about donating to your local food bank or soup kitchen. The economic downturn has caused hardship for many. Gardeners everywhere are helping provide a little extra food for the groups and agencies that help the food needy. And as my good friend and former Victory Garden host, Jim Wilson says, “if you don’t have surplus vegetables think about dropping off a few fresh flowers at a nearby soup kitchen. The folks who dine there probably don’t often see flowers on the table and flowers feed the spirit.” This morning Jim told me he dropped off a few heads of cabbage that were at the “ready to pick or they’ll bolt” stage.

PAR began at Bean’s Soup Kitchen in Anchorage, AK. Garden columnist, Jeff Lowenfels, thought, what if surplus food from home gardens could be donated to soup kitchens and food banks. Get those fresh fruits and vegetables into the food chain instead of the compost.

In May, Keane and I were in Anchorage, AK where I spoke at a Master Gardener conference. Jeff kindly took us by the soup kitchen where it began in 1995. To date this program of The Garden Writers Association has provided over 50 million meals to help feed the hungry.

jeff rose marie at bean's cafe

There is more information on the Garden Writers Association website. Jeff and I are in front of Bean’s. We were careful to not photograph anyone waiting for a meal because of privacy concerns.